The UK government has announced its commitment not to destructively test direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missiles. The pledge follows that of the United States, which in April 2022 became the first space-faring nation to impose a ban on DA-ASAT weapons testing. The Biden administration stated at the time that the US sought to establish this as a new international norm for responsible use of outer space resources.
The US announcement followed the Russian launch of an interceptor from a Nudol ground-based DA-ASAT system, which was used to destroy one of its own ageing satellites in low Earth orbit. The collision created at least 1,500 pieces of trackable debris that will pose a threat to orbiting objects for years to come.
The UK aims to lead the international debate on tackling space threats and space sustainability at the United Nations. In June, UK Science Minister George Freeman announced a new ‘Plan for Space Sustainability’ that will see the UK industry working in partnership with the government to develop new Space Sustainability Standards. The aim is to adopt best practices that will enable the UK to continue benefiting from access to outer space, improve cooperation in this constantly evolving field, take action to reduce space debris, enhance safety and better manage the growing satellite industry.
Furthermore, in July, as part of the UK’s ongoing efforts to promote responsible space behaviour, the UK Civil Aviation Authority ran a consultation on the environmental effects of the first UK space launch from Cornwall prior to granting the necessary licences for the conduct of such operations.
Access Partnership is closely monitoring developments in space sustainability, as well as the regulatory environment surrounding all new space industries. For more information, contact Chrystel Erotokritou, Compliance Manager.